A Brief History
In 1901, Mrs. Augusta Curtis offered to build Meriden's first library with one stipulation--the City be required to allocate at least $3,000 per year to run the facility. The City accepted the offer and in 1902, the Greek classical revival building opened as Meriden, Connecticut's first library. The library was designed by architect Richard Williams and constructed by H. Wales Lines Co.
After seven decades of use by the public, the Curtis building began to show its age in the early 1970s and plans commenced to build a new library. The larger library facility on Miller Street in Meriden was completed in 1974 and collections and staff were immediately moved to the new building. From 1976-1978, the Curtis building was partially renovated and restored with the addition of handicapped access to the main floor.
From 1976 to 1996, the Meriden Heritage & Culture Commission organized limited art, music, cultural events and occasional public meetings at the former library. The building became home to the Meriden Hall of Fame and the Ponselle Society. During this time, the building fell into a state of disrepair.
In 1996, Meriden's City Council approved funds for a feasibility study to renovate the building. One year later, the Council approved the renovation and restoration plan for the building. Detailed craftsmanship by architect Richard Brown and SRC Construction went into the renovation and restoration of the building from 2000 to 2001. The building opened to the public again in the fall of 2001, some 100 years after Mrs. Curtis' original offer to the citizens of Meriden.
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